Medieval Fortifications

In Medieval times, Florence was protected by city walls that surrounded the city, as well as a number of forts around the perimeter. These forts and walls served as the first line of defense, followed by the defenses of the individual buildings -- the Medici's palace and the town hall are even more imposing structures...

The outside of Fort Belvedere, a hilltop fort just behind the Stanford Graphics lab in Florence.

The fort is star-shaped, so that would-be attackers must travel a longer distance within range of the fort's defenders to get to the doors. This is looking up at one of the corners of the fort, 30 feet overhead.

One of the doors to the fort, nestled between the points of the star. The crest of the Medicis sits over the archway.

Inside the doorway, past the massive wooden doors, a corridor climbs 30 feet up to the level of the fort. There are ridges for the horses to keep their footing while pulling carriages up this steep slope.

The top of the entranceway, and yet more ridges for footing.

On top of the fort, there is plenty of space for an army of town defenders.

From on top of the fort, looking back down at the entrance (in the wall to the right). Opposite us, there is a terrace over the doorway, perhaps to provide more space for defenders to take aim at would-be attackers at close range?

Looking down on another entrance, it is obvious how the entrances were designed to squeeze attackers into a small space, where they would be easy targets from above.

From another entrance, after passing through the gate, you must climb along a long, winding open-air corridor, with plenty of room for defenders above.

On top of the wall overhanging the roadway, there are these slanted ramps (It's a 30-foot drop at the end of the ramp). Perhaps these were good for rolling stones onto attackers below?

Along another wall, you can see the elevation difference between the fort and the outside. In the background, the fort is split-level, for some reason.

The fort seems to have layer upon layer of defense. Even if an attacker makes it up the road to the hilltop fort, through the doors and up the ramps, there are still these central buildings, behind yet another small wall, as a final line of defense.

Lucas Pereira